James Bond: Sewell Vs Ogilvy

For You Eyes Only
Penguin Books 2002

Live And Let Die
Listen For Pleasure / Music For Pleasure 1984

Some of you may have read this before (as I posted it on the old Teleport City Reading Room, but for those who missed it, here’s a quick observation (rather than a full blown review) of a couple of the James Bond audio books.

As I spend most of my working day in front of a computer, quite often at the end of the day, my eyes are pretty shot. Sometimes I cannot even watch television or read a book. My eyes simply need time to rest. Usually I just turned down the lights and put on a CD. But recently I have discovered audio books. At first, I was pretty reticent about purchasing an audio book. To me it seemed like a product aimed at old people that could no longer focus. But I relented and picked up the Penguin edition of For Your Eyes Only, read by Rufus Sewell.

Needless to say, I quite enjoyed revisiting the Bond stories, albeit in a different way. I enjoyed it enough to think about obtaining a few more Bond titles. But rather than buying them from a bookshop, I though I’d check what was on ebay. A local vendor was selling three audio books from the early 1980’s, read by Ian Ogilvy.

Now this may be a stupid thing to say, because it had never occurred to me. I never thought that audiobooks would get updated like a paperback. Just as there are reprints of your favourite books, there are re-recordings of your favourite books in audio format.

Naturally I put in my bid on ebay and won. A week later my new acquisitions arrived. The first book I tackled was Live And Let Die (which happens to be my favourite Bond Story).

No offence to Mr. Sewell, after all, I had quite enjoyed his rendition of For Your Eyes Only, but compared to Ian Ogilvy, he’s a crap story teller. I was stunned at the difference. Ogilvy has a rich powerful baritone voice. His reading has a power that was missing in Sewell’s reading. Ogilvy excels at the men’s voices, and American accents. Whereas Sewell, is quite good at European accents and the female characters.

Taking that a step further, your enjoyment of an audiobook can be improved or diminished by the reader. If you were to go to Amazon and enter a search for James Bond Audiobooks, quite a list comes back. An equally large selection of readers is available to choose from to. Therein lies the dilemma. Who do you pick? Do you find one reader and stick with that guy (or gal as in the case with The Spy Who Loved Me)? Or do you spread yourself around and sample as many readers and voices as possible?

I must admit, I don’t have the answers…but it is food for thought, next time you are in your favourite bookstore and you spy an old classic as an Audiobook.

James Bond: Sewell Vs Ogilvy

5 thoughts on “James Bond: Sewell Vs Ogilvy

  1. I personally don’t do audio books at all, just because I don’t like that extra layer of interpretation between me and the author. And I find it hard to consider it a separate medium, like I can a movie adaptation. I dunno, I have weird issues about auteur theory.However, the question of Sewell v. Ogilvy in the role of James Bond? That’s a tough one. Especially considering that Ian Ogilvy is not Ian Hendry, which I was originally thinking….

  2. You bring up an interesting point Armstrong – that ‘layer of interpretation between me and the author’.I will talk a little bit more about that when I (finally – after 6 months) post my review for Devil May Care.

  3. I have really enjoyed listening to Bond audio books- especially when I commuted by car on a quiet New England highway. It’s not as easy on a noisy train. I have the set read by Robert Whitfield, which have now been re-released with Penguin’s Pulp cover designs. I believe Whitfield’s credit is now listed as his true name- Simon Vance. I wouldn’t say his delivery is energetic… but the low-key reading may help create less of that interpretive layer Armstrong mentioned. -Jason (SpyVibe)

  4. The problem that Armstrong Sabian has is precisely why I *love* audiobooks. It enables the listener to get a different interpretation of the book. (This is why many audiobooks don’t simply say “read by”, but “performed by”.) I try to get as many different versions of books I like as possible. For Bond, I am fond of Ian Ogilvy and he may be my favorite of those I have heard, though I only have his “From Russia with Love”.Damien Lewis did excellent readings of four Bond short stories for BBC Radio 2 in 2006 and Alex Jennings did “Casino Royale” last year and it was solid.Of course, it’s always great to hear the author reading his own work, but I don’t think there’s any examples of Fleming reading his stuff out there.

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